The We Remember Rally

April 4, 4:00 PM
CT Supreme Court Building

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., people from around the state will gather for a “We Remember” rally. Along with similar rallies across the country, we will be announcing the rebirth of Rev. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, and calling for our state and our nation to finally and seriously address the root causes of poverty.

The rally begins at 4:00 PM on April 4th outside the CT Supreme Court building, and will continue with various activities until approximately 7:00 PM. Questions? Contact Rev. Josh Pawelek at or 860-652-8961.

April Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

I want to share my learnings from the March 18th “On Being a Sanctuary Congregation” presentation by the Rev. Paul Fleck, along with members of the UU Church of Meriden and First and Summerfield Methodist Church, New Haven. It was a powerful and inspiring presentation, attended not only by UUS:E members and friends but also by members of at least three other local congregations.

First, I learned about the urgent need to provide sanctuary, especially in our region where no congregation is yet doing so. Deportations have increased dramatically in the last year. Most discouragingly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now deporting people who don’t have criminal convictions; who have minor children who are U.S. citizens; who are primary breadwinners for or caregivers to family members who are citizens; who are married to citizens; who have been living and working in the U.S., paying taxes, and contributing to their communities for decades; or who came to the U.S. to escape ecological disaster or political or gang persecution in their home countries. The federal government’s treatment of such people is immoral and disgraceful. As a Unitarian Universalist who affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity and compassion in human relations, I can no longer tolerate witnessing this escalation in deportations, this breaking apart of families, this returning innocent people to extreme poverty, hardship, and even death. If we, as the Unitarian Universalist Society: East, can help such people avoid deportation, I am convinced we should do it.

And I am convinced we can do it! Why? First, our building is incredibly well-suited for this purpose. We have a shower, laundry facilities, 2 kitchens, 6 bathrooms, and lots of rooms. Wherever we might house someone, it would be slightly disruptive to the normal flow of our congregational life; but it would be a small price to pay for living out our principles.

Second, we can set clear parameters around the terms of our sanctuary offer. This is not an open-ended housing arrangement. It is only a last resort for someone who is about to be deported. If we offer sanctuary to an individual or family, we can (and truly must) confirm that they have competent legal counsel and that we are providing housing only while they have active legal options in progress. If their legal options become exhausted, then they would be forced to leave the country. They would not stay with us in perpetuity.

Third, we won’t be in this effort alone. There are a number of networks providing support and funding for immigrants facing deportation. Already, the leaders of United for a Safe and Inclusive Community, Manchester, have pledged their support for UUS:E if we choose to go this route. Participants in the March 18th presentation said they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of community support and funding. The UU Church of Meriden is projecting a surplus of sanctuary funds once their current guests have resolved their legal issues.

Finally, the Meriden and New Haven congregations said they have found sanctuary work to be life- and faith-affirming. They have made new connections in their communities, including with the police, and their congregations feel alive and inspired.

Of course, this is a congregational decision. The Policy Board is currently discerning next steps. It is likely we will establish a Sanctuary Committee that will be responsible for creating a plan that can be quickly executed in the event we are called on to offer sanctuary. If you are interested in working with such a committee, please let me know. Also, I am very interested in hearing the opinions of people who have reservations about becoming a sanctuary congregation, and I welcome your feedback at or 860-652-8961.Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Andrew McKnight Concert

Andrew McKnight

April 15, 2018, at 7 PM

Andrew McKnight is an Americana artist. He performs songs and tells stories influenced by old-time Appalachia to contemporary blues and folk, all backed up by his dead-on guitar playing.

Tickets go on sale starting on March 25 after church services and will also be available at the door.

Prices are $20 adults, $18 seniors and youth, $10 ages 10-18 and under 10 free. Please notify Sue McMillen if child care is needed by April 8.

Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 Vernon St. West, Manchester, CT 860-646-5151

Click here for the poster or for more information about Andrew McKnight, visit 

Peas & Love Community Garden

Calling All Green Thumbs! 

We will be holding the first organizational meeting for the Unitarian Universalist Society: East  “Peas & Love Community Garden” on Sunday, March 25, 1:00-2:30 in the Spirit Play Room. Produce grown will be donated to a local food pantry, and we need volunteers to help out. Interested in learning more? Bring your skills, energy, and positive spirit! Don’t have the time to volunteer? We will happily accept any tools you no longer need (eg., shovel, spade, fork, flower pots, etc.). Contact Mary Lawrence, wellonwheels@hotmail.com860-985-1645 for more information.

Sunday, March 25, 1:00-2:30 in the Spirit Play Room.

Emergency Preparedness #5

Emergency Preparedness #5


Our newly created Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. But the plan is useless unless people know what to do!


When an emergency strikes, no one will know where the plan is located! How do we use the plan if we can’t find it? Training, yes, but did you know there is a better way to learn than by listening to a boring lecture? Exercises!


Do you remember when you first learned to drive a car? No one would think of taking a driver’s test after just reading an instruction manual. You first take driving lessons. And practice driving.

We will n0w shift our training of the Emergency Response Plan by using exercises. The goal is to have more than 80% of the members receive this training in the months ahead. There will be multiple opportunities offered.

  • Tabletop Exercises—where a group talks through responses to scenarios. Time is allowed for discussion and the written plan is used to explore alternatives.
  • Functional Exercises—groups act out responses without looking at the plan. No one can make a mistake, however, because guidance will be provided along the way.

Exercises can be fun! They also will save lives and reduce the risks of property damage. Come join!

Spiritually Assisting at the Moment of Death

Clear Light Society

Sunday, March 25, 1-2 PM

On Sunday, March 25, 1-2 PM, Clear Light Society will present “Spiritually Assisting at the Moment of Death.” In this free, one-hour demonstration, Clear Light director of training Melissa Lewis, RN BSN, will:

  • Offer simple, effective techniques that foster a deep and meaningful connection with loved ones;
  • Introduce the Clear Light Meditation for the Dying (recognized as a terma, or mind treasure, by the Venerable Trungpa Rinpoche); and
  • Speak to the preparation of conscious awareness for the “dawning of the Great Light” at the moment of death.

Perfectly suited for the UU community, these practices are personalized to an individual’s own beliefs and traditions. With interest from the community, Melissa will offer a four-part training at Unitarian Universalist Society: East for those who want to gain further understanding and facility in the practices.

On Becoming a Sanctuary Congregation

With Rev. Paul Fleck

Sunday, March 18, 2:30 PM

Shall the Unitarian Universalist Society: East designate itself as a “Sanctuary Congregation?” This is a question our congregation is going to be asking very carefully over the next few months. Members of the UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee, as well as other members of the congregation, have allied themselves with groups from Manchester, Hartford, and around the state to advocate for immigration justice in Connecticut and the United States. We have been present for deportation hearings, rallies and vigils. We held an informational forum in January at UUS:E. But there is more we can do as a congregation. Frankly, we have power we are not using in support of immigration justice. We can take the step of declaring ourselves a Sanctuary Congregation. This may mean providing sanctuary to a person or a family who wishes to avoid deportation. But it can mean many other things as well. In order to learn more about what it could mean for us, we have invited the Rev. Paul Fleck of New Sanctuary CT to address UUS:E members and friends. Please bring your questions and concerns on Sunday afternoon, March 18 from 2:30 to 4:00 at UUS:E. We hope you can attend. If you need childcare, please contact Annie Gentile in the UUS:E office at 860-646-5151.

March Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our annual appeal begins in March. For those of you who are new to Unitarian Universalist Society: East, the Annual Appeal is our opportunity to reflect on the value of UUS:E in our lives and to make a corresponding financial pledge for the coming fiscal year. Because the vast majority of our operating funds come from the financial gifts of members and friends, this is the most significant fundraiser in the life of our congregation. I urge all of you to begin thinking about the role UUS:E plays in your life. Then, if you haven’t done so already, please sign up for one of the Annual Appeal potluck dinners. (Sign-up sheets will be available following Sunday services in March.) And as always, if a steward contacts you to meet about your pledge, please respond to them as soon as possible. They are volunteers and we deeply appreciate their work on behalf of our congregation’s financial health.

As in every new year, there are many factors that drive increases in our proposed budget—changes in insurance, cost-of-living adjustments for our staff, and expansion of our programs, to name just a few. This year the UUS:E Growth Team, the Policy Board, and I are all in agreement that it’s time for UUS:E to hire a part-time Membership Coordinator (MC). MCs are staff members who are responsible for tracking visitors to UUS:E and helping them discern whether membership is right for them. MCs also help foster engagement of members and friends in congregational activities such as small group ministries, circle groups, adult religious education, social justice work, etc. Many UU congregations around the country who have hired MCs report not only increases in membership and financial giving, but increases in spiritual growth among members. Of course, there is a cost associated with such a hire. It’s always risky to try to increase the size of a church staff. But I feel strongly this is a risk worth taking—a spirit-filled risk!

I’m not the only one who feels this way. This year, a group of members who also feel very committed to reaching this goal have established a challenge fund. For any member or friend who increases their annual pledge from anywhere between 5% and 10%, the fund will match an amount equal to your increase. I deeply appreciate the generosity of these members, and I hope you’ll take them up on their offer!

Here’s my challenge: The tenth person who sends me a note at, or leaves me a message at 860-652-8961 and tells me 1) three things they love about UUS:E, and 2) that they are increasing their pledge by at least 5%—that person will get a breakfast, lunch or dinner on me!

There are so many good things happening at UUS:E. We’re actively exploring what it means to become a Sanctuary Congregation. We’re actively exploring joining a new Greater Hartford interfaith coalition. We’re taking very intentional steps to improve our emergency management procedures and make our building safe. We’re formally establishing a UUS:E concert series. We’re crafting a new vision statement. Please take seriously the question: “What does UUS:E mean to you?” And please make as generous a pledge as possible for the coming year.

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Waterbirds in Love

 On view during February at Unitarian Universalist Society: East. Reception on Friday, February 16 from 6:30 to 8:30PM

To glide through the water and rise in the air, what can be more enchanting? Carol Lowbeer’s new exhibit, “Waterbirds in Love,” opened at Unitarian Universalist Society: East on February 1 and captures this enchantment with many pictures of dazzling, colorful ducks, swans, and geese in action. The water birds perform “spirited “courtship” dances to impress each other while they pair up for their annual rituals.


A reception on Friday, February 6, which is open to all ages, will also feature a continuing running slideshow with 50 species of waterfowl from Connecticut, the U.S. and 25 different countries in varying stages of courtship behavior. Mandarin ducks, King Eiders, Cinnamon Teals, Chiloe Wigeons & other pairs dance and prance on land & water.  Many endangered species are included.

Additional photos, books, and cards will be on sale during the reception. 40% of all proceeds will be donated to Unitarian Universalist Society: East.

During the reception will be a continually running colorful widescreen musical slideshow featuring more water birds behavior–from the first shy interest, to wild water displays & head pumping. Ultimately ducklings, cygnets and goslings arrive which make up the “new families.”

There is an educational component to the exhibit as well. Each bird, along with its behavior, origin and habits accompanies the exhibit pictures.  Often included is an entertaining commentary on Carol’s experiences with the birds. There are also colorful fact sheets on Ducks, Swans and Geese available to read.

This is a family event and children are welcome.

Carol Lowbeer, a UUS:E member since 2002 has a special interest in photographing animals “doing what comes naturally!”  She is a graduate of DEEP’s Master Wildlife Certification program and exhibits widely in libraries & nature centers. Carol photographed the birds featured in the exhibit over a period of five years in 3 conservation sanctuaries, ponds, 2 zoos and in the wild.  Her photo collection of 75 waterfowl species can be viewed at her web gallery:

Click here for the poster.

Emergency Preparedness #4

Emergency Preparedness #4

Medical Emergencies

Our newly authorized Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. This “all-hazards plan” identifies twelve situations that could risk personal safety or property damage. Each emergency situation is designated as an annex with specific instructions. Let’s look at Annex C: Medical Emergencies.

Did You Know?

In a case of cardiac arrest, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can save a life! There is one AED unit in the facility. Did you know it is located in the lobby, low on the left wall as you come in through the entrance? Did you know that there is no lock on the glass door and anyone can easily open it? Did you know that when opened, a tone sounds to simply indicate the door is open? This tone is not connected to any emergency response service or 911 call.

Do You Know When There is a Medical Emergency…

…the following procedures are to be followed?

  1. Remain calm. Assess the ability of the ill or injured person to speak or react to painful stimulus.
  2. If unresponsive, manage the airway and determine if the person is breathing and has a pulse.
  3. If breathing and/or a pulse is not present, immediately have someone call 911 and begin CPR.
  4. Have someone bring the automated external defibrillator (AED) to the patient. Initiate its use following the audible instructions that the device will provide.
  5. If breathing and a pulse are present, assess the patient for any open wounds. If bleeding is present, put direct pressure over the wound to control external blood flow.
  6. If there are any fractures including possible fractures in the head and neck, call 911.
  7. Keep the patient comfortable. Anyone with first aid or EMS training can begin appropriate positioning and fracture care.
  8. If the person has no signs of trauma, is alert and refuses treatment, call 911 for advice before allowing the person to deny an ambulance response and go on their own.